Kathmandu is a huge city that's a true mix of the ancient world and a developing hectic way of life. There's plenty to do in Kathmandu city to keep many people busy for days.
For newcomers to Kathmandu it can be a little overwhelming. The crowds, traffic, dust, heat or cold can make it seem stressful. Take advantage of the copious cafes, restaurants and empty stores to take a break from it all.
Walking the main areas of Kathmandu is possible and sometimes faster than a taxi or rickshaw in the central areas. Taxi's are cheap but you do need some bargaining. Use them for day trips and sights just out of the center.
Check out the full guide to Kathmandu city for more practical information, or read about some of the best things to do in Kathmandu below.
Did you know?
There's always something happening in Kathmandu but it's rare to get any advance notice. From festivals to events they are usually arranged at the last minute. The best advice one can give when looking for something to do in Kathmandu is go with the flow!
Thamel is the tourist hub of Kathmandu. In between buying souvenirs, browsing second hand and new book stores you can relax over a coffee. Enjoy freshly baked pastries or eat in one of the plentiful restaurants.
For culture enthusiasts there's a never ending supply of side streets leading to stupas, temples and places of interest few people explore.
For people seeking adventure there's a slew of new activities in Kathmandu from taking Everest flights, indoor wall climbing and archery.
It can get hot, dusty and very crowded so be prepared for people, motorbikes, rickshaws and the occasional meandering cow.
in 2017 Thamel became "traffic free". The reality is - there's still plenty of traffic but sometimes its diverted away. This remains true in 2023 - beware of random motorbikes, cars, and mountain bikes. The best time to get out and about is in the morning.
Check out the Thamel guide for more...
Learning to cook Nepali style can be a fun activity. It's not all about Dal Bhat or momos either (though they are good). You can learn about blending spices, making curries and discovering new ingredients.
One of the most popular ways of booking a professional cooking course is online. Here's a list of cooking courses in Kathmandu. Do be careful of local cooking courses which are no more than a few pots and pans or large online booking course run by tour companies.
One recommended local cooking course is at Newa Momo (opposite Rosemary Restaurant in Thamel). They offer traditional Newari/Nepali cooking classes in their own kitchen.
Another is Nepal Cooking School (01-4700419) located on Satgumti (7 corner street) in Thamel.
Take a yoga classes or learn to become a yoga teacher in Kathmandu. Yoga is practiced throughput Nepal with many yoga studios offering walk in sessions or package classes.
If you've ever wanted to try yoga in the land where yogis roam then Kathmandu may well be the best place to try it out. The days of dark dingy yoga studios are gone. Learn more about yoga in Kathmandu.
Most Yoga classes have qualified teachers these days with Hatha Yoga being the most popular form practiced. From beginners all the way to teacher training you can surely find a class to suit your needs.
Discover the best places with this list of Yoga Studios & classes in Kathmandu.
Have a Coffee
Nepal has the best "undiscovered coffee" in the world. Grown at over 4,000m Nepal's coffee beans are nutty and smooth with very little bitterness.
Discover the best places to have a cup of coffee in Nepal.
Visit Temples in Kathmandu
While Kathmandu Durbar Square gets most of the temple attention the rest of city is filled with ancient temples. Aside from the big favorites like Swayambhunath and Boudhanath do make sure to check out my free Kathmandu heritage walks.
Of particular note is Kathmandu's old city. Leading through historic squares like Ason Chowk, Indra Chowk to Jana Bahal. Saturdays are best utilized for these walks due to traffic. But do try to locate Itum Bahal's heritage street to catch a glimpse of Kathmandu few others do.
Find out everything you can do with heritage walks with my dedicated book on Kathmandu Valley Heritage Walks.
Kathmandu Durbar Square
Kathmandu Durbar Square is one of the premier attractions in Kathmandu. The large square is filled with ancient temples, Newari architecture, shrines, the old royal palace and Kumari residence. Though the southern section was damaged in the 2015 earthquake much of it is being reconstructed and the northern section remains.
Find out everything you can do here with this free guide to Kathmandu Durbar SquareThroughout 2023 expect reconstruction work in Kathmandu Durbar Square. If you are on a budget and feel the ticket price does justify entrance due to the work being carried out, scroll up and see my free heritage walks as alternatives.
Kathesimbhu Stupa is a much smaller replica of the infamous Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple). It's located in a small courtyard on the way to Kathmandu Durbar Square.
The stupa was created to allow the sick and those not able to visit Swayambhunath to visit a similar stupa close to the old city.
There's not fee to enter Kathesimbhu and the area is filled with Thangka stores alone with smaller temples and two monasteries
Read more on this guide to Kathesimbhu stupa.
Kumari House Kathmandu
If you'd to take a chance at spotting a living goddess then head to Kumari house in Kathmandu Durbar Square. There's no additional entrance fee into the courtyard (which is as far as you are allowed to go).
Filled with interesting wooden carvings along the wall the prime attraction is the little window at the top. Once in a while the Kumari might be seen looking out (4pm is about the best time).
The former number one place for budget accommodation in Kathmandu and hippie hangouts is a pale shade what it once was. However it is having somewhat of a revival of late. Freak street today is a relatively clean stretch of road with a few guesthouses and new cafes.
There's no entrance fee and Freak Street is located to the south of Kathmandu Durbar Square.
Do read more on this guide to Jhochhen Tole (Freak Street).
Bhimsen Tower (Dharahara)
Bhimsen Tower is a watch tower that was rebuilt as a public attraction before being destroyed in the 2015 earthquake and rebuilt again in 2021.You can see the remains of the old tower beside the new one. You can climb the spiral staircase containing 213 steps for a panoramic view of Kathmandu city - on a clear day at least.
Located close to Civil Mall and the General Post Office. It has an entrance fee of 50 rupees for Nepali and 299 rupees for Non-Nepali.
Eat out in Kathmandu
Kathmandu's restaurant scene has started to bloom impressively over the past few years. Always a location for mountain fresh ingredients it's becoming renown for both health eating and for the variety of international dishes on offer.
From traditional Nepali dishes like momos and Dal Bhat. Italian pastas and pizzas, Tibetan Thukpas to Chinese chowmein. Hamburgers to full on steak houses. Vegetarian meals are not just tofu here with some of the widest ranges available in Asia. There's quite literally something for everybody to eat in Nepal.
Cheap restaurants in Kathmandu
Breakfast restaurants in Kathmandu
Lunch restaurants in Kathmandu
Dinner restaurants in Kathmandu
Swayambhunath (monkey temple)
Another one of Kathmandu's top attractions Swayambhunath is more commonly referred to as the Monkey Temple or in recent years its former name Swayambhu. Make your way up the 365 stone steps to the top where a stunning gold gilded stupa awaits.
There's more to the stupa area than just the white dome itself. Do set aside a full morning or afternoon to explore the area surrounding it.
Just watch out for the monkeys! Check out the full guide to Swayambhunath Monkey Temple.
Garden of Dreams
A small but pleasant garden restaurant. Aside from the nice garden and pond the Garden of Dreams biggest attraction's being away from the crowds and traffic of Thamel.
Located at the end of TriDevi Marg at the end of Thamel it has an entrance fee of 150 rupees for Nepalese and 400 rupees for Non-Nepali. Here's a full look at the Garden of Dreams.
Boudhanath is one of the largest Stupa's in all Nepal. It's so large walking around on its white dome is permitted. Surrounding the Stupa is Guru Lhakhang, a bevy of souvenir shops and cafes. The top of the stupa is currently under reconstruction and should be completed by the end of the year.
For more information including entrance fees, directions and accommodation check out the guide to Boudhanath stupa.
Kathmandu city is surrounded by Buddhist monasteries. Many of these Monasteries are located on hill tops. There's not much to do in a monastery is you just show up.
Try visiting Guru Lhakhang Monastery in front of Boudhanath stupa to get a taste of what they are like before making a longer hike out to one.
Royal palace - Narayanhiti Palace Museum
Turned into a museum in 2009 this former royal palace offers a historic look at Nepal. Outside the royal gardens are quite well kept and a pleasant but not fantastic walk around.
Located at the end of TriDevi Marg past the end of Thamel. Entrance fee for foreigners is 500 rupees. SAARC 250 rupees and Nepalese 100 rupees. Cameras & Smart phones are not allowed inside.
Pashupatinath complex contains one of Nepal's oldest temples, heaps of stupas and burning ghats. For those not used to seeing open cremations it can get a bit overwhelming.
For entrance fees, directions and things to do there check out this guide to Pashupatinath.
Buy a new camera
Need to buy a new camera? Find out the best place to buy a camera in Kathmandu without getting cheated. There's more to Kathmandu than just Thamel!
Got a broken camera? Find out the best place to get your camera repaired in Kathmandu without getting cheated.
Do read more about Camera repairs in Kathmandu
Watch a movie
Opened in 2019 is the new Chhaya center in north Thamel. It's a mini shopping mall with a large new cinema. The movies are usually from India but there's at least one international movie showing every week.
Don't get disappointed! International movies are usually censored even if rated 18. So don't expect to see the same version of the movie you might back home.
Chhaya center has unfortunately been mired in controversy since its construction as it was built over an ancient water hiti. There are several versions of what happened - one of them being that the hiti was going to be preserved as a feature, however it was completely destroyed.
Discover Street Art in Kathmandu
In recent years street art has becoming popular in areas with new dull concrete buildings in Kathmandu. Likewise in older parts of the city where the plaster is falling off the walls of derelict buildings. There are no street art tours in Kathmandu and art works do tend to be spread out. However, there are some areas where it is more prolific.
The side streets from Maru Tole have quite an amount of hand drawn paintings along with the streets past Jhochhen. Read more about street art in Kathmandu.
There is also another famous collection of modern art in Kathmandu first revealed on this website a few years ago. The French artist known as invader placed smaller tiles in the shape of space invaders throughout the city. If you are doing a heritage walk in Kathmandu you will likely come across some. Discover more about Space Invaders art in Kathmandu.
Indoor wall climbing
If trekking isn't your thing, then maybe try out some of the indoor wall climbing facilitates in Kathmandu. Most charge for the day with climbing equipment at additional charges.
Do read more about Indoor wall climbing in Kathmandu.
If you are in Swayambhu, around ring road you will find some excellent Archery ranges that are open to new comers. It's worth taking some lessons rather just show up.
Do read more about Archery in Kathmandu.
Arriving into Kathmandu City / Nepal
If this is your first trip to Nepal then the following might be helpful to you:
» Nepal visa information » Kathmandu weather » Vaccinations & immunizations for Nepal » Arriving into Kathmandu Airport » Traveling overland into Nepal » Dealing with strikes or bandas » Nepalese language for Travel » Money, ATM's & credit cards in Nepal
Check out the links at the top of the sidebar to the right for more travel guides around Nepal.
Accommodation in Kathmandu city
Here's a page of recommended accommodation in Kathmandu city from budget to luxury class hotels and where to find them in.
If you'd just like a quick search then try my search tool here to find the best rates:
Download my guidebook to Kathmandu City
Liked this page? You'll love my book! It's a guidebook that's better than the rest. Yes, really! In it I cover all of Kathmandu cities attractions (including Durbar Square) with well researched information, photographs and travel tested walking tours.
It's an interactive & printable guidebook like no other.
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Kathmandu city guidebook
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